Similar in many ways to the OPI, the ACTFL WPT is a proctored, standardized test for global assessment of functional writing ability. This means that the test measures how well a person writes in a language based on specific performance functions or real-life writing purposes.

The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines describe 5 major levels (see below) each of which has specific functions and/or abilities related to it. 


  • Novice Low
  • Novice Mid
  • Novice High


  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate Mid
  • Intermediate High


  • Advanced Low
  • Advanced Mid
  • Advanced High



To obtain a performance level, ACTFL writing tests do not compare individual student performances with a large body of samples - rather they compare the writing to a specific set of descriptors in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Writing. Thus the specific level is awarded based on how well the person meets the criteria for that specific level. The WPT measures how well a person writes spontaneously; thus no resources, such as a dictionary, grammar text, Internet, etc are permitted while taking the test. Tests are then double rated and an official ACTFL WPT certificate is issued to the candidate.

ACTFL writing tests are carefully constructed assessments with four to five requests for written responses dealing with practical, social, and/or professional topics that are encountered in informal and formal contexts. The writer is presented with tasks and contexts that represent the range of proficiency levels on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines — Writing. The tasks and prompts are written in English with the expectation that the responses be written in the target language.

For list of Frequently Asked Questions related to the WPT, see more at: http://www.languagetesting.com/writing-proficiency-test

For more specific information relating to the ACTFL writing levels and samples of such writing, see more at: http://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficien...

Taking the test

There are two forms of the WPT test. An internet based iWPT and a handwritten paper-based WPT test. Students are registered for all WPT tests through the Center for Language Studies (3086 JFSB). Depending on your purpose for taking the test, you will either be registered based on a class you are taking, or you may come into the Center for Language Studies and request the tests yourself.

The iWPT tests are 80 minutes long and are administered in B-153 JFSB, which is the Humanities language testing lab. The test will be available for a two week period, and you may take it whenever the language testing lab is open during the assigned period. Please note that the testing lab does have busy periods when you will have to wait to take a test. You should take that into account when planning a time to take your test.

Some students (Chinese and Russian) may be required to take a handwritten WPT, and in those cases specific instructions will be given by their professor or a staff member at the Center for Language Studies. If you have any questions, you are welcome to stop by our office and ask. We are happy to help.